There’s no question—you’ve put a lot of time into your horsey homework. You’ve selected the proper grooming tools, studied appropriate feeding schedules, and spent hours researching vaccinations and deworming programs—all with the purpose of giving your horse a healthy and comfortable life. Another part of horse care that you won’t want to overlook is hoof care. Your horse depends on you to regularly provide this critical component of his health care routine. But what are some of the most important things to look for when seeking a hoof-care professional for your horse? What are some things you can do to ensure a successful relationship? Let’s take a look at some ideas, and before long, your properly-trimmed and well-shod horse will be sure to thank you!
Choose a farrier who offers the services you need
Not all farriers have identical skills or offer the same services, so narrowing down exactly what tasks you want your potential farrier to perform will help you explain your needs when contacting farriers.
Find out what others think
The horse world tends to be small and close-knit, where everybody knows everybody. While this can lead to misinformation, it also means that someone you know has probably already used or is using the farrier you’re considering. Things you might ask include:
- Is the farrier on time for appointments? Is the farrier reliable, or someone who tends to cancel at the last minute?
- Are you happy with the work? Is it consistent? Is it done correctly?
- Is the farrier certified with the American Farrier’s Association? While not all farriers are, it doesn’t hurt to find out.
Another valuable source is your equine vet—he or she can be a great place to get recommendations on farriers; local trainers are also a good source.
Be a good customer
Don’t forget that a successful relationship with your farrier depends on you, too! So be courteous: don’t cancel the night before if you can possibly help it. Make sure your horse or horses are in the barn ahead of time and aren’t covered in mud! Make sure you’ve worked with your horse so that he’s used to standing quietly and having his feet handled. And most of all—arrange a regular appointment schedule! Your horse should have his feet trimmed every six to eight weeks, so plan or arranging this with your farrier and sticking to the schedule. It’ll make life easier for everyone—and your horse will benefit most of all.
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Daniel Johnson is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He’s the author of several books, including How to Raise Horses: Everything You Need to Know, (Voyageur Press, 2014). Dan’s barn is home to Summer, a Welsh/TB cross, Orion, a Welsh Cob, and Mati and Amos, two Welsh Mountain Ponies. Follow him at www.facebook.com/foxhillphoto.